Facebook has announced the launch of a catalogue feature on WhatsApp, in an effort to monetise the app which it bought in 2014 for US $ 19 billion.
Not only WhatsApp, Instagram is also an area Facebook wants to boost revenue in. Earlier Facebook had added a shopping feature to Instagram that lets users click a ‘checkout’ option on items tagged for sale and pay for them directly within the app.
The company’s flagship News Feed product continues to draw big ad dollars, but is struggling to generate new users.
The WhatsApp catalogue tool is not yet equipped with checkout and transactions happen elsewhere. Small businesses can display their products in a new ‘mobile storefront’ for their customers.
“We’re opening commerce as a new chapter,” Amrit Pal, Product Manager at WhatsApp, told Reuters. He added “We hear from businesses every day that WhatsApp is where they meet their customers, rather than sending them to a website.”
Mark Zuckerberg is planning to shift the company’s focus from private chats to add more augmented reality tools to help build it as a better B2C platform.
It’s also planning to charge businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country.
Almost 100 businesses are now using that paid version, while around 5 million use the free WhatsApp Business service.
WhatsApp’s catalogue feature is available for users in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Britain and the United States and will be rolled out around the world in the next few weeks, said the spokesman.